Is too much sodium bad for athletes?

This question is about Nutrition

Sarah Achleithner

Yes, it is possible for athletes to have too much sodium in their diets. While many athletes need more salt than the general population, too much salt may lead to bloating, thirst, swelling, and elevated blood pressure, and can be especially problematic for athletes with heart disease or kidney issues.

Sodium needs vary from athlete to athlete, depending on factors such as exercise intensity and duration, ambient temperature, body size, age, sex, and clothing. Endurance athletes can lose up to 2L of sweat/hour and 920-3680mg of sodium/hour during exercise, and maintaining normal blood sodium levels is critical for both health and performance. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that endurance athletes consume 300-600mg sodium/hour (1.7-2.9g salt) during prolonged exercise



salt on two wooden spoons on a slate background

[1] Vitale, K., & Getzin, A. (2019). Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Nutrients, 11(6), 1289.